COBI describes themselves as ‘the developer of the first smart control centre for bikes’. On a planet where your fitbit is connected to your iPhone, your iPhone is connected to your car, and your car is connected to your toaster, COBI promises to take things to the next level by revolutionizing the overall cycling experience by connecting your smartphone to your bike.
Winning multiple awards and launching from a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, this intelligent bicycle assistance system makes the claim to maximize safety, convenience, and fun on any trail or bike path. In this article we’ll take a look at how COBI is shaping the future of bike-based mobility and enjoy biking to its fullest.
What Is COBI?
COBI presents itself as the world’s first complete modular intelligence assistance system dedicated to integrating with your pushbike- whether it be the weekend fixie you ride down to the local cafe for a single origin espresso, or the Trek Madone 7 Diamond that you use when you’re training for the Tour de France.
COBI describes the COBI system as “A completely new approach for smart bikes with its fully integrated hardware and software solution”. COBI aims to integrate add over 100 intelligent features to a bike, including brake lights, automatic headlights and turning indicators.
COBI Design Bike; Construction
The COBI system is comprised of three disparate elements- a mount for attaching your smartphone to the handlebar of your bike complete with bar-mounted thumbstick controller (so you don’t have to fiddle around with your smartphone screen while doing some serious riding), a software element composed of a smartphone app to control the various device functions, and a rear light mount.
The first element- the COBI Hub- securely holds, protects, charges, and manages your phone while cycling. COBI offers a bespoke mount for both the iPhone 6 and 6s and a universal mount that caters to smartphone users that prefer alternative brands, able to hold devices up to 6 inches in diameter securely.
The COBI Hub operates as the central intelligence for the COBI system, and is rain and shock proof, protecting your phone from the hazardous situations that are encountered while riding. The COBI Hub also houses the Bluetooth and ANT+ hardware, along with a suite of sensors. One of the standout features of the COBI Hub is the detachable, rechargeable onboard battery. The battery carries enough charge to recharge a standard mobile phone three to five times, and when mounted on a bike with a compatible dynamo system, can even use the energy created from your bike to charge your phone. On compatible ebikes the COBI Hub can harness the energy from the bike’s battery system to charge your device.
The intelligent lighting system of the COBI system is spread between the COBI Hub and the rear brake light. COBI has labelled the front light as their ‘Ambisense Front Light’. The lighting system has a sensor that allows it to turn on automatically when light conditions become low enough to necessitate its use, but can be set to manual control. The light can operate in three different modes for varying conditions, and meets German road traffic licensing regulations- one of the most rigorous certifications worldwide.
The rear COBI Ambisense light incorporates both the brake signal and the turn signals, and connects wirelessly to the COBI hub. Interestingly, the rear light package includes an accelerometer that uses a sophisticated smart algorithm that determines when the rider is braking and increases the brightness of the rear light as a warning to other road users.
Apart from the standard light and turn indicators, COBI has included a suite of helpful features. The COBI smart alarm system provides security for the bike by using the onboard accelerometer to detect movement of the bicycle while left unattended, and reacts to suspicious activity with a multi level alarm. Also included is an electronic bell that can be triggered with the thumb control accessory.
The COBI app is where the separate features of the COBI system come together into one easy to control package. Described as a ‘bike computer on steroids’, the COBI Dashboard app is loaded up on the riders phone when it is connects to the COBI Hub. The COBI is available for both iOS and Android and provides real time access to a wide range of metrics such as current weather conditions, speed, fitness statistics and performance.
The app is controlled via an intuitive wheel menu that streamlines the interaction between the rider and the app, allowing the rider to focus on the road. COBI also integrates with the music on your phone, and even plugs in to Spotify, allowing riders to control their playlist on the fly. If you’ve ever used a hands free phone system in your car you’ll be familiar with the communication functions of the COBI app- the thumb stick allows riders to take and make calls without taking their hands from the handlebars, reducing risky phone action while riding.
COBI also offers a suite of fitness tracking and measurement tools for the athletic riding enthusiast. Built in sensors and Bluetooth or ANT+ sensors provide performance driven riders with detailed information on cycling cadence, performance and heart rate information directly into the COBI app.
The killer app provided by COBI, however, is the navigation function. Using information pulled from OpenStreetMap, COBI navigation functions just the same as a heads up GPS display in a car, except attached to your handlebars. COBI Navigation takes information such as current bike position, road surface, congestion and weather conditions into account to deliver the best navigation experience possible. Navigation instructions are presented both on screen and via turn by turn voice feedback.
The COBI System pricing begins at $249 USD for just the COBI Hub, ranging up to $339 USD for the complete system including both the front and back Ambisense lights. COBI ships to almost every country in the world and comes with both a 14 day return policy and a 24 month warranty.